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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I am a student at the University of Pennsylvania and am currently doing reseearch on the digital needs of woodworkers. I would appreciate any comments / feedback on the software and products you currently use during your projects and any thoughts on how you could improve them.

If there are any digital services you see a strong benefit in but cannot find I would like to hear that too.

It would also be good to know where you would need the most help. Is it at the concept / ideation stage, the planning stage or the actual creation stage (digitally controlled tools)
 

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Sawdust Creator
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Most of us here are hobbyists that don't have a strong need or want the financial outlay for Cnc tooling, that said, many of use some version of cad whether it be sketchup, autocad, or solidworks for design.
 

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I am a hobbyist woodworker.

I am not sure what you mean by "digital" - namely does the tool need to display parameters, or does the operator need to interact with the tool via some kind of display/input method?

I have been happy with my power tools with electronic speed control, examples are my three variable speed routers, my variable speed lathe.

I have been less than happy with my tools which are digital measuring devices, both made by Wixey.

My Wixey angle gauge consumes batteries. They are not expensive, but it is frustrating to insert a new battery, use the angle gauge then the next time I need it find the battery is dead.

I have a Wixey digital table saw fence. I tried to use this, but it was not accurate enough since I wanted it to display in fractions, which is how I measure. The problem is the conversion from digital to fractions is not exact, hence a small digital range is represented by the same fraction. This is large enough to cause a problem in my work, so this now gathers dust and I use the good old cursor on the fence.

So for me, electronics have generally been good, but "digital" is not so good.

I love my reference squares. Pick up anytime and they are accurate. No drift.

I love my hand planes. Tweak a setting and it will remain the next time I pick it up.

I have a number of power tools which run at fixed speed which work well, for example my table saw, band saw, planer.

My drill press has mechanical variable speed with a digital RPM display. I have been happy with this unit.

My lathe has variable speed with two buttons to increase or decrease speed in 5 rpm increments. I do wish this had a keypad to type in the speed, but I live with the two buttons.

I have a mechanical tape measure. I do not think I would want to exchange this for a digital measuring device.

Sometimes technology gets in the way.

Yesterday I needed to print a shipping label. My printer refused to print because it said two of the colour cartridges were out of date. I went to use my wife's printer, but it would not print because it said one of the colour cartridges was too low.

When such frustrations happen, I am reminded that my hand tools always do what I ask, even if I am using them in "unusual" manner.
 

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Sawdust Creator
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I have a laser measuring device, digital you could say, it's way better for measuring rooms than a tape measure for estimating.....


Other than that, I do agree that a good ok tape is most useful.

I have the wixey planer gauge and love it, however I usually use it in decimal mode, calculating in my head on the fly what equivalent fraction I'm at.
 

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i use a digital protractor, a digital caliper and a digital tilt gauge for setting the table saw and miter saw. i use a program called cutlist also.
 

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I think a lot of people have expressed a desire for design software that incorporates cut lists and material needs. I do not know of a "one size fits all" with the exception of a few cabinet programs.

Curtis
 

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I'll speak up for having a small CNC (CNC Shark via NextWaveAutomation/Rockler) in my shop. Of course I have all the other tools as well. Small digital tools that are very handy include Wixley's square magnetic angle finder for setting accurate angles on my Table Saw, Band Saw, Jointer fence, and the occasional special angle jig for making box joints on a router table. They also make a useful digital height/depth gauge for setting blade or bit height precisely. I also recently picked up a digital sliding T-Bevel, but so far haven't found it much more useful than the non-digital kind.

I teach furniture design to Interior Architecture and Architecture students. The addition of CNC tech to the college shop has gone a long way toward improving outcome and variety. Students use it for cutting scale model parts, form parts, jig and fixture parts, as well as final prototype parts that they never would have attempted before CNC. As they typically do their design drawings on a PC, it is a relatively quick step to cutout parts for mock ups as well as final pieces.
 

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I don't care for things electronic and I wouldn't purchase any machinery that had any digital displays. It seems like the least little thing that goes wrong with electronic equipment and the entire unit goes down. I just had to throw away a computer printer because some sensor in it said the paper tray door was closed when it wasn't.
 

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research?!?!?!?!?!

Kind of curious what kind of course would involve research into woodworking and the "digital" needs of woodworkers. That is possibly the most obscure "research" that I have ever heard of. Call me the eternal pessimist, but this whole thread seems a little off to me. How many times do we have so called, "students", come to the forum and start some asinine thread asking to help them with their research. Maybe I'm just an old doubting Thomas, but sounds like a marketing firm trying to get some feedback from the people who actually work with the stuff instead of the ones that sit behind a desk and pretend to know what they are doing.
Next thing you know, there will be a "project" involved where we would be asked to look over or review a certain tool prototype and state what we would or would not like about said prototype.
Why not throw a survey in the mix while we are at it?
Getting the members of WWT to do your marketing is one thing, but you could have at least, put some effort forward and posted an intro in the introduction section of the forum.
If I'm wrong, then I apologize. But in my opinion, this thread smells odd.
 

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I don't know....one of my engineering classes we needed to pick an industry and automate a process in it, one guy worked in food service so we designed and built a fully automated soda filler....when the order was entered into the computer, it would automatically pick a cup size, add ice, full to the top, with proper delays for each type of soda foaming, cap and move that cup to the "window". We were told that it could be any industry we worked in or hobby we did for fun....so long as it didn't include drinking ( the first plan was for an automated drink mixer)
 

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Kenbo said:
Kind of curious what kind of course would involve research into woodworking and the "digital" needs of woodworkers. That is possibly the most obscure "research" that I have ever heard of. Call me the eternal pessimist, but this whole thread seems a little off to me. How many times do we have so called, "students", come to the forum and start some asinine thread asking to help them with their research. Maybe I'm just an old doubting Thomas, but sounds like a marketing firm trying to get some feedback from the people who actually work with the stuff instead of the ones that sit behind a desk and pretend to know what they are doing.
Next thing you know, there will be a "project" involved where we would be asked to look over or review a certain tool prototype and state what we would or would not like about said prototype.
Why not throw a survey in the mix while we are at it?
Getting the members of WWT to do your marketing is one thing, but you could have at least, put some effort forward and posted an intro in the introduction section of the forum.
If I'm wrong, then I apologize. But in my opinion, this thread smells odd.
Although now that I re-read the post.......I'm on the fence.
 

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I don't know....one of my engineering classes we needed to pick an industry and automate a process in it, one guy worked in food service so we designed and built a fully automated soda filler....when the order was entered into the computer, it would automatically pick a cup size, add ice, full to the top, with proper delays for each type of soda foaming, cap and move that cup to the "window". We were told that it could be any industry we worked in or hobby we did for fun....so long as it didn't include drinking ( the first plan was for an automated drink mixer)

I'm just playing devil's advocate. I've seen too many of these threads where it's all B.S.
 

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greg21 said:
If there are any digital services you see a strong benefit in but cannot find I would like to hear that too.
I'm wondering why a student would want to know that....
 

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Skepticism aside, as to the real intent of the OP , I find electronics very reliable as far as fail rate. And if designed properly, accurate as well. I rarely have reliability problems with any of my electronic equipment, be it household, or in the shop.

I believe there is still an old school mentality about sticking with the tried and true. This attitude is not right or wrong,simply the way it is.

In the 70's, industry was just being introduced with digital controls,devices and IC's. Many problems ensued as the technology was new. Those days are largely gone .

Analog will likely always have a place,but its largely being replaced more and more with digital.

Perhaps one downside to digital is that repairs and troubleshooting may not be as easy as with analog.

I won't speak to the merit or lack of to the OP.

Often college classes will ask students to research something and poll the public with
questions and surveys.

I do resent low post count individuals coming into the forum , asking a question, and not participating in the thread. Reeks of trollish behavior.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Hi Guys,

I appreciate all the feedback thus far and apologize for the slow response. I have adjusted the thread subscription for instant email notification now.

Yes I agree that in my initial post the project may seem quite obscure so I thought I would explain the larger context of my project. My overall project is about digital needs / solutions for DIYers but woodworking is definitely an important activity within that context. I just wanted to focus the discussion here on woodworking. This project is for my innovation class and it has definitely a great learning experience for me thus far.

I thought I should also clarify a bit more on the services and products side of my project. Digital services can include the following:
3D design apps with cut lists and material lists (i.e. a simpler version of solidworks)
3D scanning software (take photos 360 degrees around an object and it can construct a template 3D model to work with)

From a tool perspective a digitally controlled tool would be similar to a CNC machine. One product under development that I have been researching is the handibot. Its basically a portable version of a CNC machine (A 3D cutter) that can be used for precision cutting, carving, drilling on aluminum, plastic or wood. You can expand its work area using a jig.(http://www.handibot.com/).

Please keep the ideas coming and I really appreciate all the comments so far. Once again ideas do not have to be based on some of the ones I am researching, I really want to know what software / digitally controlled tools could be important to you and that you would actually want to use.

I think technology is going to change the way we make things but really want to get feedback from you on how you think it should help you in your future projects.
 

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The biggest innovations probably need to be under the hood. Anti-lock breaks, LEDs, air conditioning, etc. have made automobiles much more user friendly and other technologies we don't see have made them more reliable.

I don't believe there is a gap in what can be done by tools that exist today. Production shops can mass produce with CNC, prototype with 3D printers, design in ProEngineer or SolidWorks. The only big digital improvement outside of design and manufacturing in run of the mill tools has been SawStop. Innovations for safety, alignment, ease of set up, etc. are sure to be numerous if those became a focus. Lasers, magnifiers, and digital measurement tools seem like small progress for woodworking compared to broad the technological revolution that has occurred over the last 30 years.

There is likely a large group of consumers that would resist these changes/innovations since they would not be viewed and necessary. However, often a problem is not viewed as a problem if a solution exists even when that solution might involve custom tools/jigs, poor safety, and an extra hour to complete the task. It's just how people are. In this case there may be a need for a Steve Jobs approach since the customer may not know what they want until they see it.

Good luck with your project. It would probably be nice for you to share your progress as you collect your research.
 
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